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Construction Injuries and Heatstroke: Hazards and Symptoms

By Matthew Golitko on August 22, 2017

Construction Worker Holding a HardhatConstruction injuries and heatstroke are a major problem in the summer months. With summer comes the longest days of the year, therefore construction workers will be subject to sweltering heat from sunrise to sundown, all while covered from head to toe in heavy protective gear.

As a result of long hours in hot conditions, it is not uncommon for construction workers to suffer heatstroke, heat exhaustion, heat syncope, heat cramps, and heat rash. The seasoned attorneys at Golitko & Daly in Indianapolis, IN, work to protect victims of construction accidents to make sure they receive full compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and emotional suffering.

Why Heatstroke Is a Hazard to Workers

In hot environments, the body must rid itself of excess heat to maintain a stable internal temperature. This is done mainly through blood circulating to the skin and sweating. When the air temperature is warmer than the normal body temperature, cooling the body becomes increasingly difficult. By sweating, the body will cool itself. However, sweating only works if the humidity level is low enough to allow evaporation, and if salts and fluids lost can be replaced.

When the body cannot deal with excess heat, it stores it. As a result, the body’s temperature will rise, as will the heart rate. The more heat the body stores, the harder it becomes to concentrate. Irritability and sickness can ensue, followed by fainting and ultimately death if the body is not cooled down.

Heatstroke Symptoms

There are a number of heat-related illnesses that can occur, but none are more serious than heatstroke. Heatstroke is when the body is no longer capable of regulating its own temperature. It occurs rapidly, as the body’s temperature can rise to 106 degrees or higher within just 10 or 15 minutes. This is a serious medical emergency that requires immediate treatment to prevent permanent injury or even death.

Heatstroke symptoms may include:

  • Confusion
  • Altered mental state
  • Slurred speech
  • Coma
  • Hot and dry skin
  • Excessive sweating
  • Seizure
  • Elevated body temperature
  • Death (if treatment is delayed)

Protecting Workers from Heatstroke

Because construction workers tend to spend long hours working in hot and humid settings while wearing heavy clothing and protective gear, they are especially susceptible to heatstroke. It is imperative that employers, project managers, and site directors take measures to protect workers from heatstroke, including:

  • Establishing a heat illness prevention program
  • Providing training about the signs, symptoms, and hazards of heatstroke
  • Providing at least one pint of water to workers every hour
  • Modifying work schedules to arrange for rest periods and water breaks
  • Designating a responsible person to monitor conditions
  • Providing lightweight, light-colored clothing
  • Blocking out direct sun

Contact Us if You Have Suffered Heatstroke on the Job

If you are subjected to unsafe working conditions and end up suffering heatstroke on the job, you could be eligible to receive compensation to cover your medical costs, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Contact Golitko & Daly to find out how we will protect your rights and seek restitution for your injury. To find out more, contact us online or call (317) 566-9600 today.

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